We went to The Coliseum, of course. As we approached the more ancient parts of Rome, I began to wonder if the Coliseum would live up to my expectations. I've heard so many people come away from Stonehenge disappointed. It doesn't seem as big as people seem to expect, and in the end it's just a pile of rocks. (By the way, I thought Stonehenge was pretty cool. But I think I'm in the minority there.)
This rather unimpressive picture is just to show some of the original, remaining marble floor. Our tour guide told us that the whole Coliseum used to have white marble face. I can't imagine how majestic it must have been in its glory (err, gory?) days.
We left the Coliseum in time for lunch, and along the way passed this majestic monument. Isn't it gorgeous?
After the Coliseum, we had a pre-arranged lunch somewhere in Rome. We had pasta and veal, plenty of bread and, of course, wine. But most important? The tiramisu we had afterwords!
Holy gravy train, this was good tiramisu. You know how you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince sometimes? Italian food is that way. I had to try a lot of tiramisus (and gelato for that matter) to find the ones that made me think of my days as a teen at Aviano AFB. I've spent many years trying tiramisus all over the world. While a few have held up, most end up being disappointing. Fortunately, I was able to get an amazing piece of tiramisu at this restaurant (with a complimentary espresso!) My hunt for great gelato was still on at this point.
Our next stop was Vatican City! I was very excited for this. (I realize I keep saying that, but it's true!) I've always wanted to visit the Vatican, but having recently seen Angels and Demons (the Dan Brown movie), I was even more eager to see this beautiful principality. The cinematography of Vatican City in that movie was just breathtaking, and I couldn't wait to experience it for myself!
We wandered through the Vatican Museum first. Okay, wandered isn't the right word. We practically jogged to keep up with our tour guide flying past sculptures and tapestries. Like everywhere else in Rome, it was so crowded.
As beautiful as everything inside the Vatican Museum is, the goal is to get to the end where the Sistine Chapel waits. As much as I keep saying "I was looking forward to this, " I really was looking forward to seeing the Sistine Chapel!
Our tour guide had warned us that we were not allowed to talk in the Sistine Chapel. The radio headsets we wore to hear her would have to be turned off for our time in the chapel. She said the guards were very strict about this and about the no photography rule. As busy and crazy as the rest of Rome was, the idea of standing still inside a silent chapel under the masterpiece of Michelangelo was awe-inspiring. I was really looking forward to a sacred experience.
Our tour did not include the catacombs beneath the basilica, which would have been cool. But here are the stairs leading down to the catacombs in the middle of the basilica.
But on closer look, it's a mosaic! Amazing what they can do with tiny stones.
Rome was really amazing. My only complaint is that we didn't have enough time to see more. And as was standard with all port adventures, there wasn't enough free time. These tours can be exhausting!